Good news for Firefox users who run older versions of the web browser that are not supported anymore officially by Mozilla. Mozilla plans to release updates for these web browsers and also a standalone extension to address the add-on signing issue that caused browser add-ons to fail in all versions of the web browser.
Mozilla will release an automatic update that fixes the issue for the Firefox versions 52 through 60. Firefox users who run version 61 to 65 may install a browser extension instead to resolve the issue on their end.
Last Friday, Firefox users from around the world noticed that the Firefox browser would deactivate all installed browser add-ons. Firefox would display the notification "One or more installed add-ons cannot be verified and have been disabled" to users of the browser. All browser extensions were deactivated in the browser, and it was impossible to enable them again or download extensions from the Mozilla Add-ons website.
Mozilla has yet to publish details on how something like this could happened; from what we know, it was a certificate that expired. Since it expired, it could not be used anymore to verify add-on signatures.
Mozilla reacted and released a fix through the Firefox browser's Shield studies system at first. The organization pushed out Firefox 66.0.4 and 66.0.5 to the Stable channel, and updates for other Firefox channels as well to resolve the issue.
While that took care of supported Firefox installations, it ignored Firefox installations that were not on the most recent version of the browser.
Mozilla updated the blog post that it released on May 4, 2019 several times. Yesterday's update highlights that a fix will be released for older versions of the Firefox web browser that are not supported officially anymore.
For users who cannot update to the latest version of Firefox or Firefox ESR, we plan to distribute an update that automatically applies the fix to versions 52 through 60. This fix will also be available as a user-installable extension. For anyone still experiencing issues in versions 61 through 65, we plan to distribute a fix through a user-installable extension. These extensions will not require users to enable Studies, and we’ll provide an update when they are available. (May 8. 19:28 EDT)
It is unclear how the update for Firefox 52 to 60 will be released. Do users have to search for the update (and risk being updated to a new version of Firefox), or is there another way to push an update to Firefox installations. Mozilla revealed that it would not use the Shield service for that. The organization promised that information will be provided once the update is available.
Mozilla plans to release a browser extension for Firefox 61 to 65 that fixes the issue as well. A link will be provided when it becomes available.
The decision to release updates for older versions of Firefox should please users who are still on that older version, and it should put the (conspiracy) theory to rest that Mozilla broke the system deliberately to force users to update to the latest version of the browser.
Something like this should never have happened; it showed how fragile enforced systems can be and how big of an impact simple things can have. It will be interesting to see how Mozilla plans to make sure that something like this won't happen again in the future.
Still, it is a good move by Mozilla to release updates for earlier versions. Whether that is the cause for the one-week release delay for the coming Firefox 67 release is unclear at this point.
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